Social Services: Community Agencies
In bid to crush union Homes First workers face Feb. 1 lockout
January 31, 2013
(TORONTO) In a brazen bid
to destroy OPSEU Local 540 representing workers who assist the homeless in
finding permanent residency, management at Homes First has signaled they
will lock out the employees on Feb. 1.
“This is one of the ugliest labour showdowns
I’ve witnessed in some time,” said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“And the responsibility for this rests squarely on the shoulders of managers
and the board of directors who define ‘victory’ as nothing less than
crushing a legitimate bargaining unit like Local 540.
Employees at Homes First turned down
management’s final contract offer earlier this week in a vote supervised by
the Ontario Labour Relations Board. In October members of Local 540 voted
100 per cent to support strike action.
Despite receiving more than $6 million in
annual funding from the City of Toronto labour relations at Homes First have
been toxic for years. Grievances about employee mistreatment and human
rights violations have been regularly filed and, most recently, management
hired security guards at four locations in a defiant act of intimidation.
Outside replacement workers have been hired even though they only duplicate
the work of regular staff.
“It’s time city hall stepped in and told the
board of directors and management at Homes First that they get serious about
its financial accountability and bargaining a contract deal,” said Kathleen
Demareski, a negotiator for the union. “We are disappointed that the eight
city councilors who have a Home First office in their ward haven’t been more
vocal about the poisonous employment conditions and management’s refusal to
bargain in good faith. We encourage them to visit, unannounced, these
The union has filed a bargaining in bad
faith application to the labour relations board which will be heard Feb. 14.
The two sides will meet again Feb. 1 with
the assistance of a mediator. If no deal can be struck almost 70 employees
could be locked out at 8:30 p.m. the same day.
Tel: 416-443-8888 ext 2484